"Don't put your child on a vegan diet," doctors now warn parents
Veganism is on the rise globally.
As more and more of us are opting for plant-based foods, it might seem like the natural choice to also do this when it comes to our children's diets.
However, there is a big difference in being vegetarian and a full-blown vegan, and in light of a new study, a prominent pediatrician in Belgium is now cautioning against a vegan diet for children and pregnant women.
Dr. Georges Casimir, head of a commission appointed by the Royal Academy of Medicine to do an in-depth study of veganism, says that the diet raises the possibility of "irreversible" harm, due to its lack of sufficient proteins and essential fatty acids for the developing brain.
The study which was conducted at the request of a national human rights organization looking to establish guidelines for pediatricians and other health care workers, recommends that children, teens, pregnant women and nursing mothers avoid following a strictly vegan diet, which they call "restrictive" and say creates "unavoidable" nutritional deficiencies.
In fact, the medical experts go on to say that if the diet is not monitored carefully, it could lead to stunted development.
Casimir added that certain vitamins and minerals such as D and B12, and calcium and other nutrients that are key to proper development are "absent from this diet.“
However, it is also important to note that not everyone is on board with the Belgium study’s findings, and that in the US, for instance, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said that a carefully planned vegan diet can be safe — and even beneficial for all ages.
"Appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases," the organization said in a report. "These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood and for athletes."
And realising the many health benefits of eating more plants, the new report does go on to say that vegans may have a reduced risk of certain health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and obesity, and that starting a vegan or vegetarian diet early in life can help establish healthy, lifelong eating habits.